Following suit of the three larger classifications, Class 2A and 3A schools will begin district play in fast pitch softball this fall.

Classes 6A and 5A had been using the format for several years, then 4A joined in time for the 2016-17 school year.

There will be eight districts in the two smaller classes.

Six districts will have eight teams but two (2A-2 and 2A-4) will only have six.

Fairland, Wyandotte, Commerce and Quapaw will be joined by Ketchum, Colcord, Hulbert and Chouteau in District 2A-8.

“It does away with the ranking system, which is a positive,” said Fairland coach Chad Ross. “You have to play and earn your way instead of relying on votes that can be swayed pretty easily.”

District play will help decide seeding for the playoffs.

“I am excited about it. I think it will be better,” Quapaw coach Kae Lani Bryan said.

With the switch to district play, it forced schools to rejigger schedules that had already been set up.

Following the 2018 season, districts will be redrawn for the 2019-2020 school year.

“This first time was tough because everyone already had their schedules made and had to reshuffle,” Ross said. “We have some overlap between our Lucky 7 Conference and OSSAA district opponents. We had four more Lucky 7 games to schedule, so that put us at 18 games with four more to schedule out of conference.

“That cuts down on some of the flexibility of the schedule. We will have to decide on scheduling those other four games.”

This leaves the smallest two classes, A and B, on the outside looking in.

Afton, Welch and Bluejacket fall into that void.

Afton’s Bobby Shinn said the Lady Eagles’ schedule had to be adjusted some to accommodate the 2A changes.

“It wasn’t bad; just a lot of changing,” he said. “I think I still got everyone scheduled.”

3A and 2A schools still will get 22 games and three tournaments or 25 games and two tournaments as in the past.

“The season is jam-packed in a fairly small window of time,” Ross said. “Once the season starts, it is fast and furious, sometimes playing four and five times in a week.”